Tuesday, June 22, 2004

3 Days In Tulsa, Part 1 - Friday

I was anxious to get my con weekend started. Even though nobody I really wanted to see was scheduled until 1:30pm, I wanted to experience it all. I knew it was unrealistic to even think we'd make it by 10:00am when the festivities opened but I was eager to be there by 11:00 or 11:30. In the end, due to sleeping habits and an errand we had to run in Tulsa, we made it by noon-ish.

As we entered the Expo Center (one of the reasons it's called Trek Expo) at the Tulsa fairgrounds I could see that some of the stars were already at their tables at the East end of the exhibit area. I spotted Jeffrey Combs and Kristen Dalton right away but resisted the urge to run over and start going "fanboy" on them. I did snap a couple of quick photos, though.

A short time later, we went to the stage and found a couple of seats. Daniel Logan was scheduled for noon and Sala Baker was scheduled for 12:30. When we arrived, it appeared that they had shared their stage time and had even dragged Ray Park up for moral support. It was obvious the three of them were friends.

I fired off some pictures, learning more about the camera I had borrowed with each shot, then sat and went over the schedule with my wife. The 1:30 presentation was for the Star Trek Villains, Marc Alaimo, Casey Biggs and Jeffrey Combs.

In my last few years of going to conventions I've noticed a trend in the way these presentations go. In the past, the stars would usually talk a few minutes about "what it was like to work on [insert scifi show title here]" which is a question that always comes up. Only after this introduction would they open it up for questions. I don't think anyone gave an introduction this weekend - not even Brent Spiner. Each presenter would come out, pose for a couple of pictures, and immediately start taking questions.

Maybe they're tired of telling the same stories over and over. Maybe they don't want to look foolish telling the same stories over and over. Maybe they want to customize what they say to what the specific audience wants to hear. I don't know but I miss the opening stories. I think the last person I saw who did that was Garret Wang from ST: Voyager. His was one of the best stage appearances I've seen in a long time and he took hardly any questions. I could have listened to him for another hour.

Of course, in all fairness to the celebrity who is solely responsible for me starting this blog, Wil Wheaton had an absolutely wonderful stage appearance. His presentation, however, was very different. He took some questions but concentrated on readings from Dancing Barefoot. Fun, fascinating and somewhat related to Star Trek but different enough that I don't lump him in that same category.

To get back to my story, Alaimo (it's pronounced uh-lie-mo), Biggs and Combs were fun but there was nothing overly memorable about their stage time. I do recall, however, that a fan dressed as an Andorian (the blue guys with the antennas) approached the microphone. As she did, Biggs and Combs, who plays an Andorian on Enterprise (among other things), started commenting on her costume. Eventually, Biggs placed his mic on top of Combs' head and Combs followed suit to make him look like he had antennas. I have a picture of the incident that I may share with you as soon as I get the 600+ pictures I took sorted a little bit better. (I did print it out as an 8x10 and I got the two of them to sign it.) Before they finished, I had already filled most of a memory card and had to dash out the car for a bit. That's when I posted the first audio blog.

Next up was Teryl Rothery from Stargate SG-1. We first saw Teryl at StarFest 2002 in Denver, CO. She was a hoot then and she's a hoot now. She has a lot of fun talking about her character and working on Stargate SG-1. She's also one of those celebrities who loves to talk to her fans. If you ever get a chance to see her, drop by and say "hello."

After Teryl Rothery was Mercedes McNab. I've never watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer nor Angel but after seeing this SciFi babe and seeing a picture of Julie Benz at the DragonCon site, I'm beginning to wonder why not. I mean, Sarah Michelle Gellar is pretty easy on the eyes, I've always had a thing for Alyson Hannigan (she's a redhead, I can't help myself) and now I see these two. I mean, Buffy had more babeage than Babewatch Baywatch. WHAT THE HELL WAS I THINKING not watching this show!!??

We didn't really hang around for McNab much longer than it took me to take a few pics (I tried not to drool on the camera as I did so). We went in search of Greg and Mia. We met Greg and Mia at Trek Expo two years ago. I was bouncing about taking pictures, as I normally do, and my wife was just looking for a place to sit down and cool her heels. The only open spot was next to this person creating beaded bracelets. Being as I wasn't there I can only assume they began making small talk at some point and Shelly found out that, like me, Greg attends SciFi conventions mainly to take pictures and Mia tags along to get glimpses of the stars and maybe a few choice autographs. We've been con buddies ever since.

When we saw Greg this year, he was sporting a "Staff" badge. Turns out that Starbase21, who sponsors the event, had some difficulty with their staff photographer last year. Greg offered some of his photos for the web site and they asked him to be their official photographer this year. In exchange, he got free admission and a chance to hang out back stage a bit.

After chatting with Greg a bit, we went back to the stage to see Jennifer Lien. She came out on stage looking a bit lost. This is not unusual for celebrities who are not used to the SciFi convention phenomenon but she looked really out of it. She waved to the audience then turned to stare at some guy, who we later figured out was her significant other, that came out on stage with her and was trying to be inconspicuous in the back corner. Eventually, she took a seat and got ready for questions.

As always, the emcee started off the questions with, "How did you get your start in acting?" It seems to be a nice ice-breaker and usually gets them talking. Not this time boy-o. Her response, and I'm quoting as verbatim as I can remember here, was, "Um... I did some plays, then I went on some auditions and got some parts."

Okaaaaaaaay... Maybe she hasn't ever done this before and the answer really was that simple to her but that's not what the fans want to hear. After snapping a few pictures I simply had to leave the stage area. Her answers weren't getting much better, the emcee was carrying the "interview" and it was like watching a train wreck because they still had 45 minutes to go. We figured that either she had a cold and the antihistimines were knocking her for a loop, she's ill and is losing some of her mental faculties or she's burned out too many brain cells doing drugs. It was truly sad to see, whatever the issue.

That evening we decided to attend a performance of "Who Calls Me Villain" with Marc Alaimo, Casey Biggs and Jeffrey Combs. I can't give too much away but they read scenes from different plays, etc. I enjoyed it and it gave me a taste of the range each of them can play. If you get a chance to see it, do so.

Coming soon: 3 Days In Tulsa, Part 2 - Saturday

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